Max Aguirre

The New England Patriots were in an unstable position heading into the 2010s. They hadn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004, and quarterback Tom Brady hadn’t looked the same since tearing his ACL in 2008. The defense was also experiencing some turnover as old veterans started retiring or departing to other teams, leaving inexperienced players to fill their shoes.

Despite all of these obstacles at the turn of the decade, the Patriots managed to go on the most successful 10-year run in NFL history. No team had ever won 121 games (not including playoffs) over the course of 10 years. The acquisitions of players like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty through the draft, as well as Brady’s defiance of father time, fueled a run that saw the Patriots add three Lombardi trophies to their collection.

Head coach Bill Belichick established himself as the greatest coach of all time, leading his team to the playoffs every year. Iconic moments like Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception in Super Bowl XLIX, or Edelman’s miraculous catch inches above the ground in Super Bowl LI, defined the decade for the Patriots. Even close losses to the Giants and Eagles in the Super Bowl couldn’t stop them from becoming the most dominant dynasty the NFL has ever seen. As the 2010s come to a close, 42-year-old Tom Brady approaches the last days of his illustrious career.

The Patriots are a top team in the league again this year and look destined for another deep playoff run. Led by a ferocious all-time defense, New England has as good a chance as anyone to win the first Lombardi Trophy of the new decade.